Jordan Catalano: "Why are you like this?"
Angela Chase: "Like what?"
Jordan Catalano: "Like, how you are."
- My So-Called Life
What kind of world would this be, if we just asked?
Why do you hold that opinion?
Why do you feel that way?
What caused you to react in that fashion?
Asking questions is the first step to shutting down that primal instinct...judgement. But it's hard. It's hard to listen. It's easy to form opinions. Harder to have them challenged.
This week I found myself in a position of judging, being judged, and then judging someone for judging me. Quite the roller coaster. I feel about the same as I did after riding the Voyage at Holiday World...bruised, irritable, and wondering why I agreed to go on that ride in the first place.
I am still trying to learn something from the events of this week. When is judgement appropriate, if ever? How can you help someone you love from getting hurt? How far is too far in understanding where a person is coming from? At what point is benefit of the doubt an enabler?
I wish it were more acceptable to ask questions. I wish I had plenty of opportunity to get down and dirty and really find out why people feel the way they do, and now it compels them to act. I catch glimpses here and there, and sometimes it makes me grumpy. The more clearly I can see the origins of behaviors, the less able I am to get really stewed about perceived injustice. It all becomes a huge pile of muckety muck to sift through.
And it all boils down to who I can control, and that is myself. Part of the judgement I was passing this week involved gaining control over a situation that I felt was out of control, and trying to twist it into submission by making declarations using the limited information I have. And you can guess how well that went.
And then it was mirrored back to me, passive aggressively. I could see the control that was desired. And I could see how the opposite effect was achieved. Instead of being drawn in by my manipulator, I was fully repulsed and furious.
If we know that we draw more flies with honey than vinegar, why do we keep putting out the vinegar? Is that not the definition of insanity?
I want a world where when we first, when we very first feel the swellings of condemnation in our heart, first say "Wait. Let me hear from you. Why do you feel this way? What happened? Who affected you? How did xyz occur? " How much misunderstanding, hostility, fury, and general tongue clucking could be avoided just by gaining perspective? And if these questions can't get answered, that we invent a few of our own, if for no other reason than to infuse gentleness into our hearts.
The questions we answer on our own though...let me be clear...must be answered in a way that does not demean the other person. Because we do this always...we are constantly making up answers to questions. And usually the conclusions we come to are less than favorable.
But there is the other side of the coin too...what if you ask all those questions, and get all your answers, and the other person is still wrong?
Well, it's not about them being right.
It's not about building a pedestal instead of an effigy.
It's about the whole person, in all their parts.
If you asked those questions, and they are still wrong, the point is that you asked. The point is that you did not assume.
And by not assuming, you open yourself to love.
And by loving, you are gentle.
And in gentleness, your light can shine.
And when your light shines, the path is illuminated.
And when the path is illuminated, you can walk on it.
And maybe, someone will come with you.